Rafael Benitez has pleaded with Newcastle’s disgruntled fans to leave the recriminations until the end of a dismal season as he attempts to drag the club out of a £100million relegation tailspin.
The Magpies entertain Swansea at St James’s Park today lying six points adrift of safety and knowing failure to hand Benitez the first win of his reign at the fifth attempt, coupled with victory for Norwich over derby rivals Sunderland, would leave them with one foot in the Sky Bet Championship.
However, with four of the club’s six remaining Barclays Premier League games taking place on Tyneside, the Spaniard is hoping the comforts of home could yet help to yield salvation.
He said: “It is not time to complain and blame anyone, it is time to stick together. If they stay behind the team, the team will be stronger.
“What do you think of as a Newcastle fan? For the team to stay in the Premier League. After? You can blame anyone.
“At the moment, all our energy has to be positive towards the players. All our energy is on them.
“I can go and I do the tactics – they could be fantastic tactics, but if they don’t perform it is not good enough. If I do the wrong tactics and they perform, no-one will notice and they will be fantastic! Every fan has to try to help. I am sure every fan will help.”
Whether or not Benitez will still be at the Newcastle helm next season is a matter of some contention, but he admits the way he has been allowed to work on Tyneside is the way he wants to work.
He said: “I have been in Italy, I have been in Spain and I have been in England before. The way that we are working here is like we want to work.
“That’s why I want to stay here, because you can do a job. I can see things that maybe can be done better. That is also the positive thing because I can see the margin to improve. A lot of things are right, but still you can improve. I am sure we can put this team at a fairly good level.”
Benitez is refusing to put a timescale on Fabricio Coloccini’s “complicated” comeback.
Newcastle’s captain, sidelined since February, has suffered a setback and is out of today’s game.